Michael V. Leggiere, Blucher: Scourge of Napoleon. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 2014. 568 pp. $34.00 U.S. (hb). ISBN-10: 0806144092.
Review by William R. Nester, St. John’s University
"Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher (1742-1819) was among the Napoleonic era’s more colorful and important generals. He was renowned for leading from the front and suffering numerous wounds from saber slices, gunshots, and horse tumbles. It was his Russian allies who nicknamed him “Marshal Forwards” for his aggressiveness. His bravery, bonhomie, energy, and advanced age when he fought against Napoleon made him at once a soldier’s soldier and father figure to his troops and officers alike....Michael Leggiere has seized that opportunity. His Blucher: Scourge of Napoleon is an excellent account of Blucher’s military career, with much of the book exploring his role in the 1813, 1814, and 1815 campaigns. Leggiere gives a balanced, in-depth analysis of Blucher as a commander. He notes that Blucher’s mere presence on a battlefield was, like that of Napoleon, a force multiplier by exciting the confidence and energy of his troops....Yet, Blucher’s charisma and courage only briefly obscured severe failings as a general. Critics condemned “his command style as negligent, inefficient, imprudent, and at times careless” (p. xii). He not only had trouble planning more than a strategic step or two ahead but paid little heed to ensuring that his men got a steady supply of provisions and munitions during fast-paced campaigns."